Nicholas Payton oltre ad essere un eccellente trombettista, è anche un pungente polemista; il suo blog è continuamente fonte di discussione e di polemiche, anche accese, all'interno del panorama jazzistico americano.
Ultimamente la polemica ha riguardato un suo post, intitolato On Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore, che annunciava la fine del jazz:
Jazz died in 1959.
There maybe cool individuals who say they play Jazz, but ain’t shit cool about Jazz as a whole.
Jazz died when cool stopped being hip.
Jazz was a limited idea to begin with.
Jazz is a label that was forced upon the musicians.
The musicians should’ve never accepted that idea.
Jazz ain’t shit.
Jazz is incestuous.
Jazz separated itself from American popular music.
The music never recovered.
Ornette tried to save Jazz from itself by taking the music back to its New Orleanian roots, but his efforts were too esoteric......
In un suo post successivo lo stesso Payton spiegava:
Let me make one thing clear.? I am not dissing an art form. I am dissing the name, Jazz.? Just like being called Nigger affected how Black people felt about themselves at one time, I believe the term “JAZZ” affects the style of playing. I am not a Nigger and I am not a Jazz musician.
What do Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Max Roach, Abbey Lincoln, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Gary Bartz and myself share in common? A disdain for Jazz. I am reintroducing a talk to the table of a conversation that my ancestors wanted to have a long time ago. It is on their shoulders that I stand.
”Jazz” is an oppressive colonialist slave term and I want no parts of it. If Jazz wasn’t a slave, why did Ornette try to free it? Jazz is not music, it is an idea that hasn’t served any of us well. It saddens me most that some of my friends can’t see that. Some of y’all who know me and I’ve even employed, stood on the bandstand with, know how important tradition is to me. My work speaks to that.....
When Black American Music became “JAZZ”, it separated itself from the American popular music idiom. I’m just trying to take it back to its roots. American popular music has been separated from its root (what you call Jazz) and, as a result, all of the branches of the tree are dying. American music is dying and I’m trying to help save it. Turn on the radio, if you don’t believe me. How many Jazz records that have come out in the last 5 years that you’ve really loved?.....
I am Nicholas Payton and I play Black American Music.
Un altro eccellente trombettista, Jeremy Pelt, sul suo blog, ha dissentito da questa visione di Payton ed in un recente post intitolato "Jazz" ain't never hurt me... ha argomentato:
There are many words in our ("our" = BLACK) history that have a negative association. The very obvious word that we foolishly throw around, and actively celebrate is "NIGGER", which has also become to be known as "NIGGA" (admittedly, I've been guilty of using the epithet on various occasions). Of the few words that serve as a blemish on the collective CV of Black culture, there has only been one that has gone from negative to positive in a very big way, and that word is "JAZZ" . Gone are the days where Jazz was played in whorehouses (sheeeiit, don't no ho's wanna hear no JAZZ while they on their J-O-B ! This is 2011 !). Rather, in a relatively short period of time, JAZZ went from those whorehouses to be a music that was/is widely respected all over the world ! Nicholas, as well as I and a whole host of musicians have traveled extensively all over the world and have gone to some places where one would not expect to hear Jazz, yet it's there. So, herein, is my point:
Why are we mad at the word "JAZZ" now ? Doesn't it seem like it's a bit too late to be rehashing this decades old argument ? The way I see it, in the music business PERIOD, you're LUCKY if you can make a living off of just playing your instrument. Over the past almost 15 years that I've been active on the scene, JAZZ has afforded me the opportunity to travel all over the world to the greatest destinations, buy thousand dollar suits and shoes, release my own CD's with my own compositions, blow an afternoon off just people watching whilst drinking a whole bottle of Sancerre on a sidewalk cafe, own property, and most importantly raise a family. Which is where I take issue with Miles, et al. Because, while they might've hated the word, they SHO 'NUFF enjoyed the fame and riches it brought them. Miles was KNIGHTED for christ sakes ! Jackie McLean started one of the best JAZZ programs in the country (Shout out to Hartt School of Music!)
That the word "JAZZ" at one time had a negative association is not relevant to me in 2011, almost 2012, when I've got bills and health insurance to think about. That someone wants to pay me, and fly me all over the world to provide their audience with 75 minutes of music that THEY'VE come to know and revere as "JAZZ" carries more weight to me......
Naturalmente la risposta di Payton non si è fatta attendere e in suo successivo post, intitolato An Open Letter To Jeremy Pelt, ha duramente rimbeccato il suo collega:
I don’t agree with your claim at all that “JA**” is the only epithet Whites have hurled at Blacks of which we’ve changed into something positive. Any perceived positivity is merely an illusion. I believe that dirty “J” word to be even more offensive than Nigger. At least when a White man calls you a Nigger, it’s honest racism. As evidenced by all the hostility that has come to light, the “J” word is the White man’s politically correct version of the “N” word. If what I was saying didn’t ring true, it wouldn’t be upsetting folks. I have rung the bell that has disrupted people’s slumber. The alarm has sounded. Wake up!
You say that the music has transcended the whorehouse like that is a good thing. “JiveASS” musicians are so uptight. It’s killing the music. Sex is the life force. I don’t have a problem with whorehouses and I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with my music being played in places where people fucked. That’s basically the point of pretty much all the music I write and play. I aim to create music that puts people in touch with their sensuality and inspires them to be intimate.
You say the music went from the whorehouses to be a music that went on to be widely respected all over the world. Are you suggesting that when the music was in New Orleans it had a reputation of ill repute? Just for your information. This music wasn’t only played in the parlors and whorehouses. There has been a tradition of brass bands that have played Black American Music dating as far back as the late 1800s, long before anybody was even thinking about that dirty 4-letter word, “JA**.”.....
Jeremy you say, “Why are we mad at the word JA** now?”, is just code for, “Why we mad at Massa now? We’s lucky to be here on dis plantation. He feed us e’byday and only beat us if we gets too big for our britches. Naw, you go ahead. Imma stay right here in Mammy’s busom.”
Calling your music “JA**” is like saying Nigger music. It’s an idea that glorifies poverty and romanticizes martyrdom. The “JA**” idea is only beneficial to an elite few. In “JA**” you’re sold the idea to be grateful for what little you have. Don’t make any waves because you’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed. Well, you can keep your $1,000 suits and shoes, I rather keep my dignity, thank you very much.....
La polemica è aperta, vedremo come andrà a finire!